Pandemic Sugar

I’m talking about sugar. Sugar dispensing to be more exact.

Note: if this sounds like the least of society’s problems, I’m going to tell you…yyyyes? aaaaand that there’s an argument to be made in how the quotidian aspects of life matter (accumulatively).

Background: since the start of the pandemic, coffee shops and cafés — I’m not talking Coffee Time or Tim Hortons, but indie espresso places — heeding the assertion at the time that COVID-19 was spreading by coming into contact with physical surfaces (since then dismissed), were forced to remove mixing stations where customers could add their own sugar and milk/cream, for fear of infection. I’m tempted here to paint a nostalgic pre-pandemic picture for those whose memories include this, because it seems that many shop owners have since adjusted and made the removal of mixing stations permanent.

This makes sense economically: there’s less real estate taken up with the mixing station, you can replace the sugar and cream with merchandise (coffee beans, etc), less condiment wastage if the staff is in charge. And this brings us to my problem.

I take sugar in my coffee. One sugar.

The problem is, since the pandemic, when I’m grabbing a coffee to go, and I tell the barista that I take sugar, the results come in two forms. The first is merely irritating: I get too much sugar. Fine, I guess. But the worst is when they put the sugar in the cup first and then add the coffee…without stirring.


No, sir. No, miss. No. Sugar is not a fluid. If you add hot liquid to sugar the sugar does not automagically combine as you clearly have it CONFLATED with milk or cream. What I end up with is effectively a cup of coffee that tastes like they haven’t added sugar to it…only to discover at the end that ALL THE SUGAR IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CUP, and NOW I’M DRINKING COFFEE-FLAVOURED SUCROSE.

Do you know how many times in the last four years I’ve had to clumsily use a pen to stir the contents of a coffee in order to avoid this? Do you know what it’s like [Oscar speech] to go through life asking yourself hey, did they forget to put sugar in my coffee or did they simply not understand physics?

(anyways this happened today, btw)

UPDATE: This literally happened again, a week after posting this!


Too Much Freedom, pt II

So, let me try to summarize the previous entry (this a just a running thought, folks, and if it seems to be directionless I’ll pull the plug): I’m attempting to invert the notion of “too much freedom,” which is typically aimed towards people seeking acknowledgement of social justice issues, seeing as in reality if there’s going to be an argument for “too much freedom” it’s in the much more serious and widely documented actions by right-wing extremism.

Part of what I’m musing on are questions of how we got here. How, for example, we have so many people who are poorly informed.

There’s an interesting piece in the Globe & Mail, by columnist David Parkinson, pointing out the chasm that can exist between what a populace thinks they know, and what the more complicated truth may be. In this case, some myths that Canadians seem to have come to believe about our economy. We think our interest rates are the highest compared to other countries, but the opposite is true; we think the carbon tax is hurting our wallets but its overall effect is practically negligible on the average person. An easy takeaway from this is the need for better public education about how the parts of the economy work. But even the best education can’t save us from our own psychology.

We’re easily influenced by phenomena which can seem to draw its own conclusions. The sight of a street person sitting on the sidewalk, drinking from a bottle a sherry distracts from the many possible reasons, likely spanning many years, how that sight came to be. If we were able in that moment to step back, we’d begin to see how factors such as socio-economic status, childhood instability, and mental health issues probably contributed to this outcome. Were we magically to have access to this information, it’s likely we would conclude the street person we see on the sidewalk probably didn’t choose to be where they are, which is where our minds might go if we don’t know any better, or don’t wish to know any better.

A very interesting piece of data is the prevalence of brain injury in homeless populations. We know through research data that street people suffer from a host of unfortunate situations. While data may not tell the full (read: nuanced) story, more and more it provides a scaffolding to better understanding, potentially leading to better social outcomes. The problem is that, to the average person a) data is invisible, and b) because most of us just want our individual lives to go well, and don’t have the time or capacity to understand everything else, we rely on a combination of news, friends, social media, suspicion, projection, transference, you name it. So, even before treading into the topic of intentional disinformation, there are many ways in which we can unintentionally lull our way into thinking we know more about things than we do.

All of this said, a defining issue, which I touched on previously is one of severity. There’s a significant degree of difference between someone who mistakenly believes the federal government is responsible for the Bank of Canada’s decisions to hike interest rates, and someone who is spreading hatred against LGBTQ+ individuals on public channels. The consequences to the former are few and isolated. To the latter other people’s lives may be at stake.

And this is where disinformation makes everything worse. It’s the difference between someone having strong feelings against a politician or member of society, and that same someone wanting to storm the Capital building or intimidate drag storytime at the local library.

And I should take a break and come back to this…to be continued.



In a previous post I wrote about how guitar lessons have been a gateway for me to work with patience, and I thought I would devote a little more space to that (side note: sometimes I’ll look back on blog posts and see how cramped/dense the ideas are, which reminds me a bit of how my first drafts look like when I’m sketching fiction — except it’s not exactly in the nature of blog posts to go back and revise, so I apologize if sometimes what I end up writing here is a little nebulous).

Anyways, guitar and patience. I didn’t go into guitar thinking I would be doing anything great or fancy. Not starting a band or anything. I just wanted to build a relationship with this instrument — something I couldn’t do when I played drums (due to their cumbersomeness and noise, especially if you are living with someone). Thing is, drumming came naturally to me, even though I never really sought them out. I took piano when I was a kid, and when I signed up for concert band (because why wouldn’t you find any way possible to avoid staring at a blackboard) my keyboard skills weren’t quite at the level to easily follow the sheet music that accompanied the band. And so I was thrown into percussion. I took to it quite well because I’ve always had a keen sense of rhythm. Going into high school, the percussion section expanded and there was usually drum kit available to practice on. And so I helped myself and eventually joined a rock band. We lasted about 5 years and there are, as they say, no regrets. But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t so much my dream to be a drummer, as much as it allowed me to stay close to music. My relationship with drums is arms-length let’s say.

With guitar the first thing you realize is that, unlike drums where the pressure is keeping the beat, if your calloused fingertips are off by only a couple of millimetres you are probably going to play the wrong note. In other words, the feedback loop of wrong/right is much more immediate and sensitive, reminiscent of piano (even more so, I would say, especially if you trying playing guitar with an overdrive pedal). As a highly sensitive person (not diagnosing myself but being honest nonetheless) this feedback loop can be very intense, and, if I’m in an off mood, the “wrong” feedback can get on my nerves fairly quickly, leading me to melt down a bit. And this is where patience comes in. I’ve had many instances where, either because I’m developing a new skill (say, a pull-off using my fourth, or “pinky”, finger) or increasing my speed with an advanced piece, I’ll end up having a bad day. In the beginning of learning guitar, those bad days were stormy for me; I got frustrated with myself, frustrated with my lack of finger coordination — all the things. I learned a couple of things over time (which is easier to do when you’re playing a song you like): bad days are part of learning and not an indictment of any innate ability you have to do something; and taking time off (be it an hour, a day, even a week) — although it might seem counterintuitive to those of us who read about performers spending several hours each day practicing — allows you to come back to your instrument with a fresh mind and, in my experience at least, if not better technique then easier comfort with the instrument. As a result of allowing myself to take it easy, on myself and my expectations, I’ve gotten better at being able to picture myself overcoming the inevitable short-term stumbles and seeing the bigger picture where the mistakes I’m making today are not carved in stone forever, as they sometimes feel in the moment.

I’ve been cognizant of this because when I’ve been revising my writing in the past — my fiction in particular — sometimes my notes can be brutal. In a fit of frustration I’ll write things in full caps (“DOESN’T MAKE SENSE?!”) which, while maybe capturing how I’m reacting to something that’s a rough draft, doesn’t exactly make for pleasant reading when I come back to implement the revisions to the story or book. It’s like taking on the tone of a quasi-abusive teacher or parent. It can be oppressive and can make the process of revision (which is where the magic truly happens) tedious and soul-melting whereas I know it’s supposed to be where I develop a closer relationship with the work. Note the word relationship.

If you will excuse the generalization, there are two types of people who pick up a guitar: the person who wants to learn [insert cool song], and the person who is curious about developing a relationship with the instrument. Sometimes the former turns into the latter, but rarely does it go the other way if your intent is honest. Likewise with learning to write (which, in the end, is largely learning to revise) I’ve taken some of the lessons I’ve learned with guitar and patience and applied them to how I “speak” to myself in my revision notes. Do I need a stern lecture? No, I don’t. Do I need shouty language? No, I don’t. And, now that I’m up to my knees in revisions to Radioland, I’m implementing this approach. The full-caps are gone. Instead of “CHANGE THIS” or “NO” I try to write something akin to an editor’s voice — an editor who wants the intended end-result to rise to the surface of the current draft — with something like “This is working but could use clarity.” Imagine coming to that while you’re making changes? Doesn’t that sound more reasonable (let alone approachable) than something like “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY HERE??”

I suppose I’m putting this out there to show that there are many ways to grow as an artist — at any stage– and one of those ways is indirectly applying the lessons of one form to another. I still have bad guitar days and will continue to experience them as long as I endeavour to play, but the important thing is that I can look past those days. And because of that, I’m better able to see (and believe) that I can, as a novelist and short story author, work through the rough patches in my writing.

(P.S. Big shout-out to Michael @ Red House Music Academy)


A Different World


I’m sometimes in the habit of cross-posting from this blog to my professional blog, but this time it’s the other way around. I think it fits.


The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the human face behind our central idea of how an economy works — something we have long needed reminding of, lest those of us who are able to pay our rents and leases become too comfortable with abstract terms such as “supply chains” and “stakeholders”. We are reminded that we are a society of interdependent people — individuals, families, communities — and it’s overdue that we see our economies the same: people require support when tragedy makes their livelihood untenable.

And just as the pandemic has made us humbly pause to consider the society we have constructed (or, if I am feeling cynical, we have  allowed others to manage so long as it doesn’t affect our ability to pay too much for our livelihood), so too has the tragic, preventable deaths of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor in the U.S. and in this country, Regis Korchinski-Paquet and Chantel Moore to name just two from each country in the last two months, forced us (and not without the persistence of the Black Lives Matter movement) to reckon with our society’s implicit racism and how that directly affects the lives (not just livelihoods) of Black and Indigenous individuals in particular.

We are reckoning not with the isolated actions of “a few bad apples” but with the concept of systemic racism, that is, when racist or white supremacist notions are baked into the very structure of certain communities, businesses, and government agencies. This is particularly evident within policing organizations.

I’ve previously written about the idea of social justice, and my own path from a place ignorance. There is a great sense of exhaustion I’ve heard from members of the BIPOC (that is, “Black, Indigenous, [and] People of Colour”) community. The exhaustion of having white friends and colleagues continually approach them to ask for resources to help them understand racism (imagine asking a victim of gun violence to help explain the problems with firearms licensing). The exhaustion that comes with wondering whether this will be yet another blip of media interest in which hopes are raised only to be let down.

A different world is possible, but the time is past due for white folk like myself to do the heavy lifting, to seek out and reference the many (many) resources out there already written by the BIPOC community that will help people like me contextualize and understand how racism is systemic, and — just as importantly — to help others like me better understand this situation. As a therapist and active member of society it’s the least I can do. 

For anyone who is curious, here are some resources I have no hesitation recommending:

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (book)

Black on Bay Street, by Hadiya Roderique (Globe and Mail essay)

The New York Times’ 1619 Project

The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King (book)

A last thought for you: there are no slow news days, only barriers to other peoples’ experience.


Michael Cahill, Coda

Let me begin by saying that this is the short version…

For those who haven’t been following my blog, my uncle, Michael Cahill, was shot and killed in 1979, in Austin Texas. This happened as he came upon someone burglarizing his apartment, who fled on foot with my uncle’s prized possession — a Guild D40 acoustic guitar. As I covered in 2006, this sad episode in my family’s life was resurfaced by journalist Denise Gamino of the Austin American-Statesman (Gamino is now a former staffer and her very excellent article is no longer on their site, however I’m linking to a copy of it here). Fortuitously, a producer from America’s Most Wanted came across it and reached out to my aunt for permission to spotlight this cold case on one of their episodes. And so, in 2007 I got to see the story of my uncle’s murder not only re-explained and re-contextualized, but also recreated with actors on broadcast TV.

And then…nothing happened. I wrote about it here and here and that generated interest. People reached out to share their theories, sometimes the odd story about Michael. Over time — especially given the cancellation of America’s Most Wanted (and the erasure of its online presence which wiped out all of the stories they covered, a crime in itself for families whose only hope for justice was the information that site provided) I grew ambivalent to any suggestion that I should be hopeful my uncle’s murder would find any sort of resolution.

On February 7th of this year, I got on a plane to Tulum, Mexico, for a vacation. When the jet landed on the tarmac of Cancún International Airport, I saw that I’d received a voicemail. I ignored it, assuming it was work-related, or maybe just spam — it was from an area code I didn’t recognize — until I returned to my office on the 18th. It was a Tuesday.

The message was from Randy Crafton the owner of Kaleidoscope Sound, a recording studio in New Jersey. While doing an inventory of their music equipment, they looked up the serial number of one of their studio guitars. Unlikely as it may seem, even as I write this, that serial number was the same as the one my uncle died chasing in 1979. It had likely changed hands many times; at some point I’m sure someone will investigate this.

This past Friday — Good Friday — the guitar was delivered by UPS to my father in Houston, just in time for the 41st anniversary of my uncle’s death. My family down there is, to say the least, ecstatic, and I am still gobsmacked at how this all came to be. Let’s face it, the probability is beyond calculation. I’m grateful, which feels like a tremendous understatement. Grateful to the people at the studio in New Jersey. Grateful to everyone who has shared Michael’s story (including that serial number!) on the web. I will most likely write something more comprehensive about this, because there are so many moving parts — names, places, people — and the story is much larger than what I’m able to encapsulate here. But I’ll get to that when the dust has settled.

Guild D40


Jean Vanier

Yesterday, I read the revelations concerning an internal report by L’Arche, an organization renowned for its work in changing the way society takes care of those with developmental and cognitive challenges. Its founder, Jean Vanier, has been accused by several women who worked with him of sexual assault. I was gutted to read this, as are many people around the world, I suspect. Let me be upfront, because I realize not everyone is going to follow the link I’ve posted (and sometimes I blog thinking that this will automatically be the case): these were women of faith who were working dedicatedly with his organization and/or directly with him, whom he coerced and pressured, sometimes over years, breaking so many personal and professional boundaries in the process, doing so much to hurt people while he was helping others.

Vanier, who passed away last year, was one of those people who, while I did not explicitly follow, I held in esteem. Ever since first learning about his work in my late 20s, his commitment to humanizing those who do not have a voice — which included the homeless, among other sectors of society — I’ve looked up to him as a high water mark of how to be a decent human being capable of walking the talk. And this makes the stories coming out all the more sickening, because of the extent of his abuse of power, how much harm he has done to his victims. 

So, what do we do?

I’m not on social media much but I can already imagine people dismissing everything to do with L’Arche, the organization. And while it would be healthy to see how the internal investigation evolved (in particular how quickly it responded to complaints), I am cognizant that the news is due to L’Arche’s internal investigation and not as a result (from what I can see) of an external journalistic exposé.

I want to continue to support the work of L’Arche in spirit, even if Vanier’s actions in private were so intoxicated and self-absorbed — in particular, for me, the accounts in which he justifies his actions to his victims as being in the spirit of God. While it appears that none of the people he cared for — the most vulnerable in society — were targeted, I am holding my breath on this last part. But there are already victims, women who trusted and believed in his work, in him, and who are scarred by their experience, and whose relationship with their religion I can only imagine must have exacted a great toll as well.

A question that is particularly relevant these days: is it possible to support the continuation of someone’s work despite their horrid private actions? Yes, I think it is, and I don’t think one requires a lawyer to parse out that logic, however I think in this particular instance L’Arche will need to gain the trust of the public, and to define themselves beyond (probably by expunging) Vanier’s image.

Incidentally, I’ve been reading Becoming Ethical, by Alan Jenkins, which provides ways for therapists and social workers to work with men who abuse. I appreciate Jenkins’ philosophy, part of what is called the invitational model, which is not to lock those who have abused into a permanent status of abuser, but allowing them an opportunity to represent themselves and find their own path through the pain they may have caused (as well as deep reflection on their own internal logic). I mention this because I deeply wish there had been a last act in Vanier’s career where he was able to recognize the damage he had done and at least had begun the work of transforming himself ethically.

I am so fucking angry at the man. And terribly saddened with yet another public figure – someone synonymous with raising the quality of the lives of others — has unveiled himself to be culpable of something so avoidable and destructive.

[For those who are curious, I’ve revised this piece many times. Why? The answer may be its own blog entry, but I feel I didn’t give as much space to the victims in the original post.]


Pain, pt. 3

So, according to the chiropractor I was referred to, I have an irritated disc [“subacute grade III mechanical low back (irritation of the L5/S1 disc, affecting the L5 nerve root on the left”)]. It’s nice having an answer. It’s also nice to hear that, contrary to what my impatience tells me, I’m doing very well (though I’d leave out the “…for your age” part, ahem). Basically, she said to keep doing what I’m doing and give it time.

The pulled Achilles is slowly healing. Ironically, though it didn’t stop me from running that 8K race, it does prevent me from doing my baguazhang forms due to the crouching stance required.

In the meantime, the weather is warming up, my winter coat is spending most of its time unused.

Again: give it time.


Pain, pt. 2

The short version: it turns out that what I have isn’t piriformis syndrome.

The long version is that if it were piriformis syndrome it would be gone by now. The pain has been alleviated greatly, but there is an odd pattern to the soreness, and overall it’s overstaying its welcome. I’m inclined to believe my TCM clinician when he suggests it’s a herniated lumbar disc. This would explain the prolonged condition, as well as how the pain is activated by any unhealthy sitting that messes with my spine’s alignment.

So, I need to be patient. This is new territory for me.

The good news is that I was able to take part in the Spring Run-Off 8K in High Park — something I’d signed up for a couple of months ago. I was prepared to sit it out (albeit miserably), however I felt good enough to take part, so long as I kept my target limited to crossing the finish line vs achieving any particular run time. In the end I crushed my expectations and pulled off a solid performance for someone who hasn’t run in weeks (and didn’t injure anything in the process).

The bad news is that, the day before the race, I was stepping off a sidewalk to cross the street at a light when I pulled/tore something in the heel of my right foot. This would be the Achilles tendon. Luckily, as running goes, I’m not a heel-striker, so it didn’t bother me on race day (now that would have been a cruel reason to cancel). That said, I have yet another part of me to rehab.



I have this weird, recurring thing. It starts with a dull soreness in my left glute, kinda like someone kicked it the day before and it feels bruised. Then, in a day or so, an odd stiffness and soreness stretching from the glute all the way down the back of my left leg, going down to my ankle. Within a day or so it reaches the zenith of its pathology: pain.

Two weeks ago yesterday I tried getting out of bed. I swung my legs over to the side of the mattress, and between that everyday action and my feet touching the floor I became a crumbled mess, bent over in agony. I was in so much pain I was crying. I was unable to stand. I was unable to sit. I was unable to do anything without experiencing the sort of intense, unrelenting pain that makes you realize in seconds why anyone would unhesitatingly reach for opiates.

What I have goes by two names: pseudo sciatica, or piriformis syndrome. The sciatic nerve travels from the spine and down the leg where it provides sensation to the skin of the foot and the lower leg. Unlike classic sciatica which involves irritation of the nerve from the spine via a disc, what I got is caused by the irritation via the piriformis muscle — something you’ve likely never hear of, but it’s a band of muscle in the core of your glutes. If the piriformis is aggravated it can bother the sciatic nerve in a similar way to classic sciatica. [Update: please see the follow-up post]

I’ve described the pain to people as like having your hamstring replaced with razor wire. It’s actually worse, because of how the pain “glows” all through the leg. At its worst, the pain cuts through your thoughts, your feelings. It takes priority over everything. It doesn’t care if you are happy or if you had plans to go somewhere that day. I’m always humbled by how quickly physical pain cuts through everything, taking priority, and how it terrorizes me with its power. I end up impatient with others, downright angry 24/7. I catastrophize: this is never going to end, I’m going to be like this forever.

I can afford physiotherapy, which makes me lucky. I don’t have health benefits because I’m self-employed, so anything not covered by provincial health care comes out of my wallet. I immediately checked myself into a physio clinic and I remember being furious: this again. This being physio. Physiotherapy (and related physical therapies) is something I have a good deal of experience with and I never hesitate to recommend it to people; the irony is that when I find myself being forced to return to physio it feels as if I’ve failed at something. Something tells me I’ve been irresponsible, which is silly.

Piriformis syndrome can happen to people who sit a lot. While I’m one of the most physically active people I know (I walk to work every day, I go to the gym, I run, I practice baguazhang) my job as a psychotherapist means I’m sitting for an hour at a time. Piriformis syndrome also prefers distance runners, which makes me a prime candidate.

For the last two weeks I’ve been doing physio exercises three times a day, combined with visits to a clinic, combined with acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Progress was very, very slow. The last time I had this it lasted all of a week or so, and I was able to work it out on my own with stretching and massage. This time it’s been remarkably more painful and long-lasting.

Yesterday, on the two week anniversary of not being able to stand out of bed, it felt like something had subtly changed. My mobility felt more easy, I didn’t have the feeling like I couldn’t extend my lower leg when I was walking on the sidewalk doing errands. I stayed outside, pushing myself a little, forcing myself to stay active. Today, for the first time in many weeks (partly because of the terrible weather we’ve had) I was able to practice ba gua outside on our terrace. I nearly cried.

My relationship with physical exercise is a personal one. It allows me to connect with my body. It is embodied movement, whether it’s running a 10K circuit or doing ape offers fruit. I’ve gone two weeks without any chance of significant exercise, and so the things that gave me internal relief — running, baguazhang, gym — were off-limits, which in turn made me miserable, feeling imprisoned.

I suppose I’m sharing this because it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the relationship between body and mental health. How it directly affects my spirit. The pain is slowly receding, I have my mobility, and I know that soon I’m going to be able to run outside and feel better. But my experience pales beside anyone with chronic pain, and I am humbled when I consider anyone who has to go through life under such conditions, be they due to injury or living conditions. Not to mention the fact that, when this has passed, I will have spent hundreds of dollars on physical therapies that many cannot access.


January 11, 2016

I planned to get up at 6am and go for a run, despite the forecast noting a windchill of -16C. What happened is that, because I’d played my first indoor soccer match of the year the previous night (I headed-in the game equalizer) my better sense woke me up and I switched off the alarm on my smartphone at 4am to get some rest and heal my muscles.

Ingrid’s radio alarm went-off at 7:26am. It was the usual: CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning broadcast. But something seemed off. For one thing they were talking a lot about David Bowie. But, I thought, he just had an album out on Friday so it didn’t surprise me. And then it dawned on us that his name was being used in the past tense. I distinctly remember them playing Sound and Vision, a song I would never imagine Metro Morning otherwise playing.

I didn’t want a Canadian or journalistic perspective. I didn’t want to hear about how “strange” Bowie was. I didn’t want to hear the inevitable and inevitably earnest interview with astronaut Chris Hadfield. We spent the rest of the morning listening to BBC Radio Six which had put together a very thoughtful program, including reminiscences from musicians and Bowie collaborators. We went about our morning routine – namely, drinking coffee and reading the Globe and Mail – but it seemed like we weren’t paying attention to anything but the radio. I eschewed social media. I did not want other people’s words in my head, I didn’t want to find myself summarizing my feelings about Bowie’s passing in the sort of facile way that social media can render even the most heartfelt words. I didn’t even want to write that I was avoiding social media. I wanted none of it.

We had some breakfast and I finished some email correspondence for my practice. And then I went for a run. I needed to, even though this was probably the first time I’ve ever stepped out in plain daylight to do so (note: seeing your shadow is weird when you’re running). It was neither my fastest nor most laboured 10k. My head wasn’t really focused on anything, expect for maybe some of the songs BBC Six had been playing: songs plainly inspired by Bowie (Down Here by John Grant), songs which had plainly inspired Bowie (1-2-3 by Len Barry).

Lou Reed was the musician/performer who most likely kept me from killing myself when I was a teenager. His voice came through the speaker and consoled me in its plain cadence, and hinted to me of an alternative universe that I could only dream of seeing back then, living in the suburbs as I did; darker, sure, but more real. I don’t know if David Bowie saved my life but he made it infinitely more interesting and colourful, pulling influences out of his sleeve like a Harlequin-magician and transforming them into a succession of mesmerizing and artistically inspiring songs intended for a wide audience. He largely succeeded because he stayed ahead of trends. Both of them are gone, and while I may have felt more gutted about Reed’s passing, Bowie – whose songs, cool and fragile, rollicking and romantic, I sang to myself regularly – was another artist I had communion with, as do we all with those who deeply influence us when we feel alone.